Consulting firm to pay nearly $600 million for role in opioid crisis

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 5, 2021

By Geoff Mulvihill

Associated Press

The global consulting firm McKinsey & Company agreed to pay nearly $600 million for its role in advising businesses on how to sell more prescription opioid painkillers amid a nationwide overdose crisis.

“We deeply regret that we did not adequately acknowledge the tragic consequences of the epidemic unfolding in our communities,” McKinsey Global Managing Partner Kevin Sneader said in a statement Thursday, noting the company cooperated with investigations. “With this agreement, we hope to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis in the U.S.”

Most of the money is in a $573 million settlement reached with 47 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories, but the company said it had deals with a total of 49 states. Washington’s attorney general announced a separate $13.5 million deal and West Virginia announced a $10 million settlement with the New York-based company.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said the state went with their own lawsuit to avoid the potential of only receiving a measly settlement tied to the population of the state, one of the hardest hit by overdoses. He said he aimed to work with state lawmakers to direct the money toward addiction recovery.

The only remaining state that has not announced a deal with the company is Nevada, where the attorney general’s office said it is continuing an investigation of McKinsey and speaking with the company about its concerns.

Most of the payments will come within the next two months under the multistate agreement. The payments are earmarked for abating the raging overdose and addiction crisis that has deepened during the coronavirus pandemic. Opioids, which include prescription drugs and illegal substances such as heroin and illicit fentanyl, have been linked to more than 470,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000.

“Even though no amount of money can bring back the lives lost, I hope our settlement provides funding for programs to help those battling opioid addiction,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement Thursday.